What Does it Look Like When a Dog Vomits?

Dog sleeping

This is a quick “Vomit 101” so you can be aware and prepared for what happens when a dog throws up. (If you have my book The Dog Bible: Everything You Dog Wants You to Know then you probably don’t panic if your dog throws up because you can check for reassurance about the warning signs around vomiting that requires medical intervention).

In my next blogs I‘ll cover the signs of serious kinds of vomiting – those that mean you need to make an appointment with the veterinarian for the following day or those that mean beat feet right to an animal emergency center.

This is a simple description of the progression of normal vomiting for those who have not yet had the delightful experience of that moment when a dog is about to upchuck.

1) Sometimes vomiting is preceded (and actually stimulated) by your dog eating a lot of of grass if he has access to it – or even trying to eat a decorative houseplant. Often something is bothering his stomach and his instinct is to further irritate his stomach with plant matter to trigger the vomiting mechanism.

2) He may be drooling saliva.

3) The dog sits down in an upright sitting position, perhaps more rigid than his usual sitting posture, and his sides start heaving.

4) Often there can be saliva coming out of his mouth.

5) I can swear that at this “preparatory stage” of puking my own dogs look nauseated, with their lips sort of pulled back.

6) There can be a “washing machine” sort of sound from their stomachs as they are heaving their sides like a bellows – with increasing vigor.

7) And then all at once Oopsie Daisy! There’s a pile of puke on the floor (in my house when the mood strikes the dogs to throw up they always seem to prefer to get it on a nice carpet).

8) Sometimes everything in their stomachs will come up, or if their stomach is empty then they will bring up a foamy greenish-yellow liquid that is stomach bile.

It’s actually quite natural for dogs to vomit if their stomachs are irritated. In the vomit you may see the grass they might have ingested as part of the “need to throw up” instinct, or bits of something they were chewing on that became irritating (pieces of bone, stick, or rawhide).

You should pick up the water bowl and not offer any food for about an hour, just to make sure his stomach has settled down.

Generally speaking, if your dog throws up once and then goes his merry way, he has thrown up something that was irritating his stomach he’ll feel better pretty much right away. Once throw up, the drama is over! This kind of vomiting is not a cause for alarm because the dog’s body has gotten rid of the problem and solved it.

Stay tuned next week for signs and symptoms of vomiting that requires medical attention.

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Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.

Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.

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